Expert: Shark attacks on humans is ‘quite a rare thing’

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RIVERHEAD -

Despite their scary reputation, sharks rarely ever attack humans and would rather feed on fish and marine mammals, experts say.

“It's quite a rare thing, especially given the amount of people who are in the water,” said Joseph Yaiullo, the curator and co-founder of the Long Island Aquarium.

Yauillo says there are quite a few sharks that visit Long Island waters, especially in the summer. The waters warm up, schools of bait fish migrate closer to the shore, and sharks follow the food.

RELATED: 2 children injured in possible shark attacks off Fire Island  

Some common sharks in Long Island waters include sand tiger and sand bar sharks.

Yauillo says sharks of those types primarily feed on smaller fish. If a shark sees a human splashing in the water where there are schools of fish nearby, it might try to investigate, leading to an accidental attack.

“Sharks don't have hands to feel with…Sharks use their mouth. They will bite into something to see if that is something that is possibly food. They get a lot of tactile information by mouthing something,” he says.

Yauillo says it's also possible that a bluefish bit the two children in the waters off Fire Island Wednesday.

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